ISM Chief Executive, Deborah Annetts' New Year's Message for 2022 Jump to main content

ISM Chief Executive, Deborah Annetts' New Year's Message for 2022

Happy New Year to our members and all those working in the music sector and broader creative industries.

As we enter the third year of trying to navigate COVID-19 and its impact, all of us at the ISM are sincerely hoping that 2022 will be a more positive year than the last.

Before Christmas, we wrote to the Chancellor Rishi Sunak urging him to introduce financial support for musicians and creative freelancers due to the Omicron variant, and to expand the Culture Recovery Fund to include creative freelancers. The letter also asks for the Treasury-backed reinsurance scheme to be expanded to cover more COVID-19 related cancellations. We know it is an incredibly difficult time for freelance musicians who have lost work due to the pandemic, without meaningful financial support. We continue to lobby DCMS and the Chancellor to support musicians during this period.

In some good news, we closed 2021 in celebration at having won the prestigious Individual Member Association of the Year at the UK Association Awards 2021. I am extremely proud that our campaigning and lobbying and extensive support for musicians who have faced, and continue to face, exceptionally challenging circumstances have been recognised by this award. Our ability as an independent organisation to respond to the needs of the music community is second to none. I thank the ISM staff team and Board for their hard work and commitment which has made this award possible.

A particular highlight for 2021 was the ISM Trust's music education conference – Where to next for music education? It began with a keynote speech by Mark Phillips, Ofsted’s National Lead for Music, followed by four panel discussions exploring everything from priorities for early years and what we can learn from the devolved nations, to your legal rights as music teachers. We were amazed by how many people attended, almost 500 in all.

The panel on music education in England was particularly lively with contributions from those attending covering everything from the adverse consequences on music education of the EBacc and Progress 8, and the DfE’s decision not to consult with music teachers on the refreshed National Plan for Music Education. The picture seems much more positive in the devolved nations. A worrying picture emerged in England of teachers on zero-hour contracts being too frightened to speak up about the poor conditions they were experiencing.

The conference will feed into our latest research on music education and you can be part of this work by taking part in our music education surveybefore 10 January.

In Brexit news, it has now been over a year since the Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) was signed, ending the UK's membership and transitional arrangement with the European Union (EU). Despite the Prime Minister’s assurances that progress would be made, all the problems first identified facing the creative sector due to the TCA still remain. All these issues are adversely impacting the UK music industry and the broader creative industries, which is worth £116bn per annum to the UK economy, the same as finance or construction.

We have written to Liz Truss, the new Brexit minister, to reject the hardline approach of her predecessor, Lord Frost, and to switch tack and kickstart negotiations with EU states, while still calling for a visa waiver deal with Brussels.

On 09 November 2021, the Supreme Court heard the case of Harpur Trust v Brazel - a landmark case on holiday pay in which our highly skilled in-house legal team have supported our member Mrs Lesley Brazel with since 2013. The judgment will not only impact the holiday pay of music teachers, but also holiday pay rights for thousands of others who work term-time only, such as school catering staff and playground assistants. You can read more about this historic case on our website and listen to our latest podcast.

The ISM prides itself on doing our utmost to support our members and we hope that the Supreme Court will see the merits of Mrs Brazel’s case. It is likely that the judgment will be given sometime between January and April this year. Our legal team can help you with a wide range of legal issues from unpaid fees to recording contracts, copyright issues, discrimination, redundancies, and grievances. Find out more about contacting our legal team.

Never has there been a more important time to look after your wellbeing, and we continue to provide you with specialist services, including face-to-face counselling and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and our ground-breaking physiotherapy service.

Whatever the future holds, as the ISM enters its 140th year, we will be here for you no matter what. And hopefully we will see more of you face to face or virtually as the year unfolds.

We are always happy to hear from our members and colleagues, so please do feel free to get in touch at [email protected], by telephone at 020 7221 3499 or via Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or Instagram.

May I wish you and your loved ones a safe 2022 from the ISM team and happy music making.

Deborah Annetts
Chief Executive